Not only am I feeling better – much less depressed – but I am also _looking_ better too. Doctors and nurses are noticing that I look like I’m feeling better. My appearance matches my reported mood. People at church are also noticing my increased mood in how I present myself and speak. In general people are saying I have a brighter affect and more positive aura.
It’s wonderful that I’m looking as good as I’m feeling. In the last week I’ve had to put a number, a percentage, to how I’m feeling. I think I’m about 90%! I still feel a little depressed, lethargic, tired, difficulty concentrating, not enjoying activities. Yet overall my mood is uplifted, nearly happy, and I’m finding some enjoyment and motivation.
I’m dumbfounded at how well ECT is working, and I’m wondering if I chickened out the three times I tried it at Linden Oaks and didn’t get beyond three treatments. I stopped after 8 treatments while at Good Sam because of side effects and memory problems. Now I’m not getting side effects or memory problems, thank goodness. I do have some aphasia, not being able to think of or come up with words for thoughts I get. I’m told it will go away after ECT treatments are over.
Today I had my 13th ECT treatment. My depression continues to improve! I’ve had 3 ECT’s each week of the last several weeks. My brain is rewiring itself with the seizures, and symptoms are going away. Appetite and sleep are good now when they weren’t a couple weeks ago. Concentration is getting better, and psychomotor agitation and suicidal thoughts have dissipated. I still feel depressed or down every day, and have low energy. I think I’m about 90% better. And the gains are solid through non-ECT days too. Starting next week I’ll be having only 2 treatments each week and decreasing from there too.
Cognitively, the only side effect I’m having from ECT is some aphasia and some slowness putting thoughts together into sentences. My memory is not affected at all this time with ECT. The doctor has been careful to only do right unilateral ECT and not bilateral or bifrontal ECT which led to memory problems last time.
My family is surrounding me with help during this treatment. My brother drives my mom and I to and from the hospital downtown. My mom accompanies me through the several waiting rooms, and I’m discharged to her care. She prepares a sack-breakfast for me for after ECT. She cooks dinners too. My dad cleans up the dinner dishes and the kitchen counters for me.
My therapist asked me what I thought life would be like once these treatments are over. I don’t know if I’ll want to move, and if so, to where – back to CA for geography and culture, back to Chicago area for support system, to somewhere local to the family’s house to remain with their support. I do expect more independence: cooking, laundry, cleaning. But I am considering the benefits of staying with family, living in community.
I have now had 8 ECT treatments. My short-term memory is just starting to be affected, but with prompts I can remember things ok. My mood is slowly getting better, though. I’m not thinking about suicide and I don’t seem to be wallowing in depression. But I’m not enjoying activities yet. So I’ll continue with ECT three times a week for at least another week or two before we taper the treatments down to once a week or so.
I wake up at 5:15am on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for ECT and get a ride with my brother to the hospital which is in downtown Dallas near his workplace. My mom goes with me as you need to be released into an adult’s care after ECT. We wait in the hospital’s lobby for a couple hours before ECT and then an hour or so afterwards too until my brother comes to pick us up. Then I relax for the rest of the day to let my body come down from the seizure. I’m grateful my family is supporting me through this treatment and I don’t have to go through this alone.
Today I was stuck 4 times to get an I.V. started. It’s the first time it took more than one stick. Ouch!! The only other problem I’m having with ECT is lightheadedness upon standing. Could be the ECT or the anesthesia. It started after the 4th ECT and isn’t getting better.
17 days in the hospital, 3 ECT, 1 new med, 3 meds stopped, and 1 med in a different form. Its been a busy time in here! So far my responsiveness is better and brighter, as is my affect. My mood is a little higher than when I got here, and suicidal thoughts are more academic with less intent. Although, death is still appealing to me. It’s all progress, and I’ll take it! Best guess is that I’ll go home on Monday after ECT #5. Friday was a possibility but we’ll have a better sense of whether the treatments are working if there is sustained remission with the extra day over the weekend. And I’d like to be thinking about suicide less before going home since going home will increase anxiety which will increase suicidal thinking (how it works for me at least).
I’ve read 4 books so far and am a third of the way through a 5th. Watching tv a lot, since there are only 2 groups a day plus meals to occupy our time. Played some games, talked to people too. Such is life in a psych unit.
On Friday I had the first ECT in this series. It went smoothly with only the expected horrible all-over aches for two days now. I have the next three this week, Mon,Wed, Fri. When I am adjusted to the treatments AND I am no longer suicidal, I can move on into outpatient ECT treatments. Logistics for that is a bigger issue than it should be. Sigh. Family. Sigh.
I did not take on ECT lightly. I know I could lose more memories and cognitive function. But I can’t live with suicidal thoughts Every.Fucking.Day. I can’t live in the depths of despair Every Day. Medications are not and have not worked to keep me stable. Hospitals have lifted me out. Time with family has held a fall at bay. I have been told that ECT changes lives. I’m trying to have hope that it will change mine.
See, there’s a contradiction. Hope that it will change my life presupposes that I want to live. I don’t want to live suicidally depressed or cycling rapidly into and out of it. AND I have little hope at all that ANything can work. So death is my best option out of this quandary of hades’ making.
Want to know why I am still in the hospital then?
I have been staring into the abyss for two weeks. I have been very close to suicide, even in the hospital, where I am right now. I didn’t get to take my Chicago vacation because I was in a New And Good hospital. Excellent doctors and staff, comfy bed, decent food.
And still I struggle with life and death. It is deeply agonizing. Good doctors have taken me off three of my meds and added one. Med changes are miserable but usually necessary. One thing to discern is whether my suicidal visions are from depression or OCD, reopening an old argument. I want the death, but the visions come unbidden. So the argument remains.
With only a little persuasion, I have agreed to a full course of ECT – 12-20 sessions, three days a week. Yes, I have had bad experiences such as long-term memory loss and cognitive loss. I’m at the end of meds I can I can try. I’ve been told I’ve taken enough that I have a 5-10 percent chance of Any working at this point. I never did a full series of ECT before so I don’t know if it will work. I’m going risk further memory and cognitive issues because sometimes I want to live.
I need your love and support. I’m very alone at the edge of the abyss.
I’m of two minds again. One part of my mind wants to go on the trip to Chicago next week. I’ve got plans to do some fun things and to catch up with friends. In theory there are other trips I want to go on, and I still wonder about going back to school for a ph.d. some day (next year? ha! like my brain could do that). I’m also thinking about moving back to Chicago again where I’d be happier, as I discussed in my previous post.
I’m in a dark place again thinking about suicide and imagining how I’d do it. My plan is clear, as it always is. So that’s not new. In fact none of this is new. I have sorted all my blog posts into topics for the book I’m writing about living with bipolar. So very often I have written about suicidal thoughts and how they keep after me, nipping at my heels on a constant basis. I have written of wondering if I should go to the hospital and how badly I am suffering in the pit of suicidal depression.
I’m in the pit again. I work the coping skills All.The.Time. I contact people. Now I even have my therapist in the pit with me, saying he will stay until it’s not a pit anymore or until he or I finds a way out that hasn’t been tried before. And he said he would tell me when it’s time to go the hospital. Both of these tactics are different from other providers who always left it up to me and kept telling me to work the skills as though things would be different this time. They never were. I would end up in the hospital as a cry for help instead of following through.
I hate the hospitals here. Nothing to do. Substandard care. Bad food. I miss my hospital in Chicago-area. Being as bad as I am, I would be more likely to go to the hospital in Chicago. Here in TX, I’m desperate to stay out. So much that I might push myself to do it, although I’d just end up in the hospital if I lived.
I’m ashamed of being this bad again. I know in my heart that it’s not something I’ve done. It’s something I live with. The thoughts pound against my skull. When I’m thinking about the trip, I know the suicidal thoughts are lies. But the next minute I’m sinking into despair.